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Laurent Bugnion for Microsoft Azure

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Humans of Microsoft S02E01: Abel Wang

A few weeks before Abel Wang's passing, he accepted my invitation to talk about his relocation from the Midwest to Redmond, his favorite software project ever, and his attitude towards life and his health issues.

Because of the circumstances, and after talking to Abel's family, we decided to publish this video now to remind everyone of Abel's amazing energy and positivity. We miss you Abel.

This is part of a series titled Humans of Microsoft, which is part of the Hello World show on LearnTV and on Channel9.
More details here
and here


Laurent: Welcome back to Humans of Microsoft. This is a segment where we talk to people just like you and me, but they all happen to work for Microsoft and today I have a guest who is not really just like you and me because it's a, it's an actual rock star and I'm so happy to welcome my good friend Abel Wang to the show. Hello Abel, how are you?

Abel: I'm doing really good. Thank you so much for having me.

Laurent: Oh absolutely, such a pleasure to have you. And as a first guest of Season 2, Abel, you are a Principal Program Manager and you work for Azure Incubations, right?

Abel: Yes, that is correct. I'm officially the technical advisor to the CTO of Azure, so to Mark Russinovich.

Laurent: So Abel I know that a few years ago you were living in Houston and you moved to the Pacific Northwest So in the region of Seattle, which is, you know, the headquarters of Microsoft. Why did you decide to move and how do you feel that it impacted your career?

Abel: That's a great question. I actually, I've always wanted to make it to the West Coast. Well I grew up in the Midwest in the United States, but I wanted to be in California, 'cause clearly that's where I belong. Or somewhere on the West Coast. I definitely didn't belong in the Midwest, but when I graduated from college, I already had my son then. So money was really tight. And you know, I got, I got a CS degree, And I got job offers on the East Coast, West Coast, everywhere, but they all paid the same amount of money. But living in Houston, TX, that was, the cost of living is so cheap, it was kind of a no brainer. So my plan was, move to Houston and then in a couple years I'll find a job somehow and get to the West Coast. But what I didn't realize is once you have children, you're kind of stuck in a place, right? So as soon as my son graduated from high school, I looked at my wife. She looked at me and we said, now is the time right? And I knew I wanted to spend a little bit of time in Redmond, at least just because that's the corporate headquarters for Microsoft and I wanted to be where the action was. I wanted to see what it was like. You know, I knew that I could compete in Microsoft everywhere else, right around the world, doing services, doing sales. But I was like, can I compete with those Redmond people, but then, can I join, like, a product group? Can I? Am I at that level? Can I do this? It was like a challenge. And it was a strategic move on my part in terms of what I wanted for my career. So I actually got a job in product marketing. And I moved over to Seattle and it was amazing coming into work, going into campus every single day, it was, it was freaking amazing. The amount of connections that I built was invaluable, right, the face-to-face time. I think it was a huge positive influence on my career and I'm not saying that it's the only way to do things, but for me, I'm I'm glad I made the move.

Laurent: What production software that you wrote are you the proudest of?

Abel: That's another great question. I think I need to go all the way back in time to, this was my third year out of college. I somehow fooled Chase Bank into thinking that I was actually like a software architect of some sort, and at that time, this was during the dotcom boom. So everybody was getting jobs, but I was, we were trying to get bank information except they stored all their bank information on mainframes, right? So in order to have web servers that could serve a webpage that would pull that live information from the mainframe. Well, that was really tough. They didn't have a way to do that, so if you remember back, I guess this would be the early 90s, or mid 90s there, there really was very few ways that you could remote and do things right, so I ended up having to write a bridge using CORBA. That would talk to both the mainframe and to, like, the web servers to pull data from the main frames. And it's still being used by Chase today. So it was one of my first big projects and one of the funnest things I've done.

Laurent: Wow, CORBA, it's like a horror show for me.

Abel: Oh it was horrible. But I didn't know better back then.

Laurent: Well yeah, I mean back then it was the way, right? So quickly to finish and we could talk, you know, for many more hours probably, but how do you stay positive throughout everything that you're going through?

Abel: Very good question. So for those that don't know, I was diagnosed with cancer about three years ago and then I beat it. And then in March I was diagnosed with stage four cancer and it spread everywhere, right? So people often ask me, how do you stay positive? But the truth is, life is hard for all of us. All of us, it's hard, right? in in in some certain ways, and you can't wait until life isn't hard enough to decide to be happy. So I decide to be happy every day that I can.

Laurent: Wow. This is fantastic. Positivity as a decision, as a conscious decision. I love that. Well, this was fantastic. Thank you so much for coming on the show today, Abel, it was amazing. Thank you so much to all the viewers for watching and we'll see you next time on Humans of Microsoft.

Top comments (4)

n3wt0n profile image
Davide 'CoderDave' Benvegnù

What a great human being. Source of inspiration for many. He will be sorely missed. He already is

aprilspeight profile image
April Speight

Thank you for this, Laurent.

wassimchegham profile image
Wassim Chegham


joannamfolk profile image
Joanna Folk

Rest in peace, Abel! Beauty in the face of death. Such a proud individual!